It's A Problem

Mannequins Get Even Skinnier, Now With Visible Ribs

When was the last time you looked at a mannequin and thought “that figure just isn’t thin enough?” Apparently, someone at the New York branch of the upscale lingerie store La Perla had just that cross his or her mind.

On Tuesday, Twitter user Michael Rudoy sparked a controversy with a snap of a mannequin in the shop window that displayed visible ribs.

“How does La Perla think visible ribs on a mannequin is OK?” Rudoy asked, and soon a hashtag campaign against the super-thin mannequins, #NotBuyingIt, began trending.


A scary close-up of La Perla’s mannequin.

Thanks to pressure from the online community, La Perla is yanking the hyper-thin mannequins.

“The mannequin photographed has been removed from the store and will not be used again by any La Perla boutique,” the company tweeted. “We are in the process of redesigning all La Perla stores with a new concept image and the mannequins that are currently displayed in our US stores will no longer be used.”

Maybe La Perla should take a page from UK department store Debenhams, which features curvier human-shaped forms that better reflect many women’s bodies.

“I hope more retailers will recognize that meeting customer demand for more diversity makes good business sense,” British Equalities Minister Jo Swinson said in a statement at the time of the Debenhams launch. “Many customers want to see more realistic images in magazines, TV and on the high street, and having mannequins that reflect and celebrate our diverse society is one way of helping to achieve this.”

So why would a store like La Perla think it was good idea to hang their lingerie on a mannequins so skinny their ribs are jutting out? The idealization of exposed, emaciated ribs is a terrifying trend—whether it’s on a model, a mannequin or a pop star. But according to some people in the retail industry, it’s profitable. “Clothes look better on tall, thin, abnormal bodies,” Bloomingdale’s visual director Roya Sullivan told the Chicago Tribune in a 2007 interview.

Maybe stores with super-thin mannequins should start thinking a little less about what suits the clothes and a little more about what suits the customers. Not only does it reinforce unrealistic standards of beauty, it makes shopping for lingerie —already a daunting task— seem a lot less enticing.

Photos: Getty Images via Bloomberg, Twitter

  • Robert Remillard

    The fashion industry just eclipsed ridiculous. What’s next, insane?

  • Laura Buse

    I’m a bit sad about all this hate. Of course it’s stupid to put ribs on a mannequin, because… it’s a MANNEQUIN. But why not put different sized mannequins in the stores. It’s already always “fat women vs anorexic women”, with both parties bashing each other. Do we have to fight over mannequins now too?
    It’s natural to be attracted to the things that confirm your own world views and values. And it feels good to be able to see yourself in something and feel validated (just how a lot of girls feel most drawn to the Disney princess that resembles them the most in character/hair color/eye color/etc.).
    So for me, as a thin girl, the skinny mannequins look more natural. I can see myself in them. My ribs don’t stand out like that (unless I put my arms up like the one doll in the first picture) but who knows, there might be people who look like that too and want to feel validated. When I look at the mannequins in the linked article, I don’t feel very drawn to them. Because it’s not how I look and what kind of body I’m used to seeing. But that’s just to me. Women with that body shape naturally feel happy and validated when they see these mannequins.
    So jeez, just put different mannequins in the stores so that everyone can relate and feel like their body is “welcome”. And stop hating on specific body types/shapes and calling some more normal than others cause they aren’t. We all just want to feel good about ourselves.

    • Jamie Louise Higgins


  • Krista Connor

    Are they trying to put pressure on girls when shopping telling them “you have to look like these mannequins to wear these clothes, or you just don’t fit in our society. Like what are they doing these days?

    • Cory Melichar

      They’re probably saying “You have to be this size or you won’t fit into our clothes”. If there’s plus size clothes why can’t there be “under-size” clothes?

  • Michelle Lowe

    This is so sad. There are a few chain stores in Canada that have “upgraded“ their mannequins to a size 12. A normal, healthy woman. In the Netherlands, they do the same thing. I love my wonderful neighbours in America, but please wake up! Marketing and advertising will destroy the self esteem of the upcoming generations.

  • Gabrielle Felts

    This seems like a publicity stunt to get coverage, then say “sorry, we’re throwing away the mannequins.” I would absolutely love to see mannequins of larger proportions. Many clothes don’t even look the same on a size 8 or 10 as they do on a size 0.

  • Sara Fortson

    Unrealistic? Maybe to a lot of people but that’s mostly how I look in underwear and I’m far from “emancipated.” Just a thought.

  • Cory Melichar

    Maybe having ribs on the mannequins wasn’t smart, but honestly having mannequins being a size 12 when there’s PLENTY of us women that are still a size
    1-6 is a little much. Sure, they should be a HEALTHY weight, but being a size 1 isn’t unhealthy. I’m 0-1 and I’m perfectly healthy. I don’t even work out and I still fit that size. Don’t leave out people like me just because you don’t like that we stay skinny when we don’t try to. Don’t shame either side.

  • Coribeth Mansfield

    I’m sick of skinny being offensive. If people want to see mannequins that represent ‘real women’ or ‘all body types’ be prepared to see just that. Full figured mannequins are applauded and skinny ones are offensive? That’s not a positive message. This mannequin very closely represents my body and that of many other women.

    • Kat Holbrook

      I agree, completely. It makes me feel angry that it has become acceptable to use the words ‘anorexic’ and ‘skinny’, among many others, as derogatory terms. There are plenty of women who have the natural shape as pictured, but due to the mannequin controversy, this shape is now branded ‘sick’ and ‘unhealthy’. #stopthinshaming Every body type deserve equal representation and respect.

  • Mikael Hultkvist

    Marketing and fashion etc… jada, jada don´t cause self consciousness and low self esteem. Comparing yourself to others does, or as in this case even worse comparing yourself to fiction. Advertising has always been about selling dreams, obviously nothing is true. Wake the fuck up and realize the real problem. Again, if you get miserable from the way people look in magazines its because you COMPARE yourself. People who build there sense of self worth by comparing them self to other will be just as miserable even if we took away all the ads and shitty magazines. And by the love of god stop buying the crap, and post like these help maintaining the fixation of looks just as much as the ones you are criticizing… you can never win over something by fighting it that resistance will only fuel the fire, all you can do is to be the change.

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